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The Disgusting (and Delicious) Way Octopus is Eaten in China

by Uneeb Khan
The Disgusting (and Delicious) Way Octopus is Eaten in China

Deep fried, skewered, or even served on pizza—there are a lot of ways to enjoy octopus, even if you live outside of Japan or Greece where it’s traditionally eaten. However, there’s one way that some people eat octopus that might make you pucker in disgust (and worry about your diet at the same time). The way? Devouring it alive! Yup, apparently, in some parts of China (particularly in Fujian), it’s considered both delicious and good luck to eat an octopus while it’s still moving and writhing around.

What you need to know about eating live seafood in Asia

Live seafood is a delicacy in many parts of Asia. Fish, prawns, and crabs are often served still alive and squirming on the plate. Eating live seafood can be a fun experience with friends or a horrifying ordeal at the hands of an unscrupulous vendor. For those willing to try it, here’s what to know about eating live seafood in Asia.

How octopus is served and eaten

Octopus is served at night because the dim lighting makes it appear to be a more expensive dish. One of the popular ways octopus is eaten in China is fried with soy sauce, ginger, and green onion. The octopus can be cooked from raw to cooked or cooked from frozen. In some restaurants, octopus is served live with a small jar on the side that has iced water. When the diner finishes eating, they pour the water over the head of the octopi before throwing it back into its tank as a sign that they are finished.

What does it taste like?

Octopus tastes like chicken or lobster. It has a slightly rubbery texture, but it’s not tough and chewy. Some people say that octopi are slimy to the touch, but I don’t think so–I think they’re kind of soft and squidgy.

 Chinese people eat them raw, stir-fried, and in soups. If you’ve ever had calamari, then you’ll know that it tastes very similar to an octopus.

 In America, octopi are most often boiled and served with a sauce or fried into strips. It’s delicious, but you get used to it. In Asia, many people like to eat raw seafood, including octopus and squid.

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How much does it cost?

Octopus has a long history with the people of Japan, Korea, and China. In Japan, it’s called tako, and they are grilled or boiled before being served with soy sauce and wasabi. Koreans like to make a dish called jokbal by boiling the octopus for hours until it turns into a chewy noodle-like texture. The Chinese take things one step further by deep frying them whole in batter until they turn crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

It might sound gross to eat octopuses whole while they’re still alive, but their meat is soft when cooked so their tentacles don’t make any difficult chewing issues. They can also be cut up into pieces if you want to cook them that way as well.

Where to find it

Octopuses are a popular dish in many cultures, but the way they’re prepared can vary greatly. In China, for example, an octopus is cut into small pieces and dipped into a mixture of soy sauce and chili oil before being eaten. The result? A spicy, salty snack that’s both crunchy and chewy at the same time.

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